Steve Jobs Commencement Speech at Stanford University


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Steve Jobs Commencement Speech at Stanford University

The inspirational words spoken by Jobs still have greater effects on various business leaders and people around the world especially his ability to link his message and the intended audience. In the Commencement address by Steve Jobs, CEO of Apple Computer and of Pixar Animation Studios he said, “You’ve got to find what you love”. Steve Jobs delivered the message on June 12, 2005, he, as an elder and achiever, strives to give his audience who graduate from Stanford University some wisdoms and inspirations. In his speech, Jobs tells three stories from his life to encourage his audience unhurriedly face to their life and tenaciously pursue their love. These three stories are about “connecting the dots”, “love and lost” and “death”. Steve Jobs establishes his credibility, influence, and sometimes combines multiple rhetorical strategies to affect his audience to accept these enlightenments of life.

To entirely understand goal of Steve Jobs in creating his argument on speech, the anticipated audience, apparent purpose and context ought to be initially analyzed. This presentation is at Stanford University as commencement. The audiences include top brains from the finest universities in the world. Steve Jobs advices and enlightens the graduates who are about to face life. In context, being an achiever, he imperceptibly uses his own life stories to convince his audience because the stories are reality. Steve Jobs’ humble beginning and the fact that he never graduated indicates that he has a lower starting point than these graduates thus confirming the reality of his stories.

Steve Jobs’ ethos, pathos and the structure of speech largely influences his speeches and arguments. He presents his opinion and history as evidence that creates rhetorical backing in ethos. Steve makes himself an individual who is determined even in times of obstacles to overcome challenges that face him and make them perfect (Web). He advises his audience that failure can sometimes be good and are some of the things that make him successful. He connects well with his audience because of his success and position as a role model. Job creates a person everyone would want to become even if his fame. He develops emotional connection with his audience and this deepens the relationship and makes them to strive to become like him.

Steve Jobs tells a story concerning his battle with cancer and this works well in convincing his audience who can relate with cancer. The cancer issue brings emotion into picture and enhances a good connection with his client. It makes him prove the point that time is precious and death can actually take place anytime and further let the audience understand where he comes from (Jobs Web). Steve uses his life experiences to play upon his rhetorical strategies. In his address, he uses love and loss as universal emotions common to all humans to attract the audience attention and make the speech connect with the graduates emotionally. He tells audience to utilize their intuition and follow their hearts to become happy. He further uses repetitive structures and speaks of adversity as a road to success. Steve Jobs, just like any other prominent speaker uses emotional anecdotes to represent their own personality and history. He begins his life story with his unwed graduate mother who put him up for adoption and other clearly disadvantaged background as a poor child (Jobs Web).

Apart from using his challenges in convincing the audience, he tells the audience to believe in themselves by giving example on how he started from a simple beginning. Steve Jobs reminds the students that even the most unfortunate and poor students can achieve success in their lives. He also explains about a company he started that later grew into a big company and this reminds the grads that even them they can start off things humbly and be successful. Steve Jobs reminds the audience that they can reach greater heights if they follow their dreams just like him. He digs deep into his intimate lifestyle issues and uses pathos to tap into the grads’ feelings of sympathy. Steve Jobs proves a strong man with ability to conquer challenges and his three stories make him an example of hard work as a precursor to success (Jobs Web). Steve Jobs successfully tells three different stories representing three different rhetorical strategies to make his speech better, inspiring, and more believable to his audience. He makes the students believe that success is just within their reach and the insight offers a stronger connection for the grads. Jobs’ speech shows his audience that outlook on life is simple and that is what entails success (Web).

While proving the capability of starting from a small beginning, he nicely organizes his speech to sound connective and rhetorical. The structure of Jobs’ speech sounds connective and rhetorical because he sets it high topically by including three stories thus enabling him make his point and connect his arguments in an organized manner. Jobs did not just spill his points in random times and moments but organized them in a systematic manner making him to connect issues to an overall point of finding. Steve Jobs’ creation of language structure relates with the three stories and three varying messages including connecting the dot, love and loss and death (Web). His ability to connect the three stories with the intended messages enables his audience to follow them easily. Steve establishes his arguments with rhetorical backing and his speech is only supported through opinionated and personal experiences.

Jobs speech is easily understood because he uses simple topics and words in structuring his speech such as starting the animation studio Pixar, NeXT and bounces to Apple (Web). He shows students that challenges and adversity can make them better and stronger by explaining that his life was initially good, took a wrong turn, and eventually became much better. Jobs speech is organized in a very consistent way as he honestly, but loosely introduces his topics. As he introduces his third topic, he gives it a brief, simple, and elegant phrase, “death” and the ability to speak in a simple manner makes him appear honest and builds the logos of his argument.

Besides simplicity and word structuring, Jobs applies frankness and honesty in his speech such as the comment he makes when he talking about death. He says that “Even people who want to go to heaven don’t want to die to get there. And yet death is the destination we all share. No one has ever escaped it” (Web). Jobs informs the students that the truth of the matter is that they will all die and therefore they need to utilize the time they have to ensure that they follow their passion and desires. He tells the students that they should not live with regrets by failing to do what they are best in. These forthright remarks and visible evidence that success is attainable tend to encourage the grads to follow their hearts and emphasizes on his heart-wrenching rhetoric.

Within Steve Jobs’ presentation is a structured and suggestive argument purposed in persuading his audience to follow their passion in order to achieve success. His speech was developed in a way in which life experience examples and evidences are highlighted while occasionally pairing them with powerful emotions. Besides, without his personal experience regarding the topic of success, none of these strategies would have been as effective towards his audience. Steve Jobs intertwines these multiple parts of persuasion to convince the audience of the significance of following passion. He nicely connects the three stories with his emotions leaving the graduates empowered. Steve Jobs uses emotionally charged stories as well as elegant, simple and intellect words in his speech to portray his character and eligibility that work well in addressing and motivating the graduates.

Works Cited

Jobs, Steve. “How to Live Before You Die” Stanford University. Stanford University, 14 June 2005. Web. 11 Feb. 2014. <>.